Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Break

I'm on break.  I mean really--a break.  Unpaid, but I'll take it anyway.  2 weeks and 2 days of my time (well there is a work bag full of work to complete before I return, but you get the idea).  I have enjoyed it.  Enjoyed it so much that the work bag full of work sits here staring at me and I merely laugh as I choose to write this instead of grading/planning/organizing that!.

Josh has commented that he is quite happy with the results when I have time on my hands.  And I am, too.  I laugh more.  Plan more.  Surprise more.  Relax more.  It's different this year.  The kids are content to go play tennis with their friends while mom goes to the mall for the last few Christmas items.  Josh is happy to feed the dog and the chickens while I stay in bed.  I am actually relaxing.

But there is a downside.  It won't last.  And for the most part I am good at not even beginning to think about that dark dark thought.  But sometimes, when I am enjoying my time the most!, I realize that it won't last.  It's already almost half over.  There will come a time when that work bag will seem insurmountable and a time when I begin to dread the next day as one day closer to the end of this blissful utopia. 

Yet, for the present, I can shove that aside and believe that this is what I was meant to do.  Be a mother and a wife and a best friend and a human being without restraint of a work day schedule.

And then the guilt weighs down.  I have an amazing job--how many people can touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of children throughout their career and actually see the results?  I bumped into an acquaintance the other day and he drove that point home--even though that wasn't his intent.  He mentioned that it was unusual for me to be at my children's school winter assembly and had I enjoyed it.  I enjoyed it immensely, I replied, it even brought tears to my eyes because it is such a rare occurrence to be a part of my own offspring's schooling.  He then threw the knife directly at my heart--well then it must be terrible to have to work.

But it's not. As much as I enjoy this down time, as much as I love being home when the kids are (even though they really don't need me and are often off with their own lives while I sit at home) I am so blessed to work in a field that has little extrinsic (paycheck) and much intrinsic (knowledge that I am an important adult in the life of a child) value.  How many people get that?  How many people recognize the dichotomy of wanting never to return because it's too hard and wanting to return immediately because one wonders what is happening in the lives of the students they are on break from?

It's an odd feeling.  And one only bestowed upon those of us lucky enough to be in a financial situation that allows us to choose an intrinsically rewarding job in lieu of an extrinsically rewarding one.  I am tired, I want nothing more than to sleep for the next 3 months.  I also wonder on a moment by moment basis whether or not  my students are remembering what I taught them, are having fun, are eating, are warm, are moving away before I get a chance to say goodbye...

I look forward to sleeping in tomorrow just as much as I look forward to returning to work in 12 days. 

It's definitely winter break.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why oh Why oh Why? And How oh How oh How?

I was so happy to wake up this morning, 1.5 hours past my usual alarm.  Coffee was brewing, made by someone else.  I had breakfast with my children.  Then I casually wrote my daughter's last name inside the book she was taking to school so she wouldn't lose it and all hell broke loose.  Well, not exactly hell, but certainly the wrath of a 10 year old child crossed by her mother first thing in the morning.  I am pretty sure the wrath of hell may be easier to handle.

First off, let's go back to the happy moment (ahhhhh, that was nice wasn't it) okay jump ahead to the wrath of said 10 year old.  Stamping feet, slamming bowls, glares--ooh she is good!--pouts, tears, whiny calls for the undoing of said name in book. 
Then let's jump ahead to to my response. Firm words, cries of I don't understand why you are so upset, stop being upset this instant, you are not going to the book fair if you continue to act this way, explain yourself, explain your actions, do you realize how disrespectful and immature you are being?????

I know, I know.  As a general rule, I am a very calm rational person, except when it comes to my daughter and her emotions.  Then I am much like her, irrational.  And passionately so.
My husband is a saint.  He stays out of it.  I have learned much in the last year so I attempt to drag him into it because frankly (oh no! Must I say it???) he is BETTER at this parenting thing then me.  He remains saintly and simply states, when she gets like this I just back off.

Oh, backing off.  Now there's an idea.  I must ponder this.  Because when she gets like this the last thing I think to do is to back off.  Instead I rear up into her face and attempt to force her to confront her irrational behavior.  I laugh just writing about it--cause in hindsight and in my husband's sight the answer is so simple.  Back off.  Let her process whatever it is and then be there for her to talk about it.

So I backed off --practically hid behind my husband to prevent myself from reacting to the explosion that was my child.  And she calmed down and told me what was wrong. And she was right.  Cause it turns out I didn't ask her if I could write the name in the book, I just did it.  And then in a fit of "I'll fix it" I whited the name out and that was somehow worse in her mind.  And I didn't ask her if I should fix it.  I just fixed it.

After she told me all she needed was for me to ask her in the first place, I was reticent, but I apologized.  And she apologized much more willingly and all was well.  How Brady Bunch like is that?

After we dropped the kids off, my amazing husband and thankfully the father of my children, reminded me that it's so important to not "do things to" our kids, but rather ask them first.   See there was a time when I was responsible for doing things to and for our kids.  But they've grown up.  And while they are more than happy for me to do things like their laundry and making their lunches, they are a lot less desirable of me doing things like making decisions about their belongings and their lives.

Luckily they've got good heads on their shoulders (even when they are irrationally exploding) and make pretty darn good choices.  And even more luckily they have 2 parents who are a pretty good balance of one another to help point them in the right direction.  Even if at times 1 of the parents needs to hide behind the other to do so.

So what are the whys and hows of raising my kids? Well the why is easy, it's cause I love them and the how...well, I do it 1 moment at a time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Insults Between Those Who Respect One Another"

Keeton and Mishya are insulting one another while beating one another with pillows.
Keeton told Mishya, "you hit like a girl, oh wait you are a girl, you hit like a boy"
To which Mishya replied, "well, you hit like a girl!"

I think they do not understand the insult.  And for that I am proud.

Post Script:
They changed their insults to: "you hit like a cell" "well you hit like a baby" "oh yeah, well a cell is smaller than a baby" "well then you hit like 1/1000000 of a cell" "oh yeah,  well then I say you hit like one million one hundredths of cell" "oh yeah, double that" "double that 5 times" "same to you, but this goes on forever so let's just end this" "yeah, cause I already said one more than you, let's end it"

Post Post Script:
"I am aiming for your crotch!"
"Oh yeah, well you are doing a very bad job of it!"

I love these kids.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

His First Dance

The entrance to teenager is complete.  After turning 13 this week--my son not only can go into a whole new level of movie without me, he went to his first middle school dance.  And I chaperoned.  Not because I was worried, but because I was excited for him. 

And it was everything I remember middle school dances to be: awkward; strobe lights (well maybe I didn't always have those!); pumping music so loud it was hard to talk; segregated by gender on the dance floor; and an absolute blast. 

My son never danced.  He wandered around the dance floor.  He hid between banks of lockers.  He joked around with the other boys.  He had long conversations with the adult chaperones.  He brought his mother punch (with an eyeball floating in it--it was a Halloween dance after all) and pieces of candy corn and fudge.  And he took over the DJing for a few songs--including the freeze dance competition.  I think he had fun.

And at the end when all the kids went running outside giggling, shrieking and thoroughly sated from their "first dance omg it was the best ever!!!"ready to go home, he stayed and cleaned up; along with us adults who were laughing, teasing, reminiscing and thoroughly sated from having been a part of our first borns' first dance.

Then we went home, the three of us:  his father the DJ; me--his mother the chaperone, and my wonderful son--the teenager who experienced a rite of passage.  And we played Mario Kart wii--until midnight.  13 is good.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tech Support

Well I just found out what happens when Tech Support shuts you down with, "I don't know." 

First you reply, "um, you don't know?" and wait for them to actually solve it.

They then reply, "Nope, I don't know." 

Second, you reply, "You don't know? That's really your answer?"

They then reply, "yep."

Third:  You deal with it and solve it your own way. 

And I am happy to report, I solved it.  ON MY OWN! and my 10 year old daughter appreciated that, "Way to go Mom you solved your own problem!"  Ah, bless the little children. 

Not so sure Tech Support AKA my fabulous better half is as appreciative of my techniques.  But he got out of solving my problem and taught me a valuable lesson about taking care of myself.  Next time, I'll just assume I need to do that prior to asking, also a valuable lesson.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Please Sir, may I have some more?

Cutest Trick or Treat moment of the night, so far....

When prompted by his father,  "What do you say?" an adorable little child (under age 4) said, "Can I have some more?"  Father was duly, but unnecessarily,  embarrassed.

After my not so little, but still oh so adorable teenager shut the door,  he said, "If I said that you'd be mad."  To which I replied, "If you said that I'd march you home and eat all your candy in front of you. It's rough to be 13, isn't it."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Welsh Poetry...and other strange things that come from the mouths of babes

I picked my daughter up from soccer this evening just like any other fall Thursday night.  But tonight was different, she was in another world, listless, zoning, totally unaware I was there.  I was concerned.  She was staring at the sky, I was calling her name, she was turning in circles, I was screaming her name, she was walking towards me as if in a fog, I was rushing towards her to figure out what was wrong.  She was fine...if you call uttering Welsh Poetry as fine.

Let me clarify. I asked her, "What's wrong? You're not yourself."
She simply whispered, "I'll tell you in the car" with a sigh of longing.

I was anxious enough that I shouted at her to shut the car door when she merely sat in the passenger seat and stared through the windshield with the door hanging open.  She turned to me and said it was nerves.  That she had played on the 6-7th grade boys team this evening in an open contest against the 6-7th grade girls (she's in 5th and decidedly used to playing on a U-11 team) They had placed her in the goal (her normal position) and she had been SCARED! Her nerves were unable to get under control.  She says to me, "I even tried to center myself by uttering Welsh Poetry and that didn't work!"

I sat stunned.  Welsh Poetry? Nerves were rattled and she uttered Welsh Poetry? And as I sat there pondering that I heard her start low and gravely, "I am the captain of the storm, I shall overcome the ranks of the many.  I shall stir within me the ...." and I couldn't move, couldn't drive, couldn't figure out if she was 10 or if she was an ancient Welsh Warrior ready to do battle.  So I looked at her and she sat staring out the window into the setting darkness, wistful continuing her poem (apparently Welsh...)

After she finished her soliloquy, I shattered her trance and asked her exactly what the heck had happened at practice--I figured there had to be some story of ball hitting her head-- and hard! in there somewhere.  But there wasn't.  She (my amazing goalie of a daughter) had made 2 saves on 2 shots against older players.  And she had been nervous the whole time, even after her first save.  And a Welsh Poem came to her mind and she uttered it to calm herself and somewhere deep in that poem she got stuck.

And now she is in our living room, age 10 again and buoyantly watching Jane Eyre and I am sitting here thinking of the Welsh country-side and longing for simpler times when I understood my child and wondering where the time has gone that she has had this chance to become so worldly.  And even more, I am wondering if "time" is even a relevant reference in the lives of young ones.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Conduct Alerts

Conduct Alerts (for those of you outside teaching...never mind, you probably won't get the rest of this post anyway.) I wish I could write:

Child's name:  I think I know but there are so many of them it's easier for me to tell you where he sits than what to call him and when I do call on him I often call him someone else based on where he sat the first week of school in proximity to the other child. If and when I am ever able to form a relationship via nanosecond contact throughout the shortened school year I promise to return and fill this line in.

Incident:  While attempting to manage the behavior of 34 students who all want and need my attention and have no respect for one another let alone the lone adult in the room said child got frustrated in his attempt at ACTUALLY doing the work and by the time I finally made my way over to him he could no longer verbalize what he needed in order to do his work and I got interrupted by student behavior from around the room that was so terrible in their attempt to get me to help them instead of someone else that I couldn't focus on said poor child ACTUALLY asking a question related to work and then said child flipped his desk in his attempt to get away from me and the class and the stupid work that I had assigned in an actual attempt to do academics in an over packed, under-educated, disrespectful group of needy students who just want one thing and that is to be NOTICED by me and given individual attention ALL DAY LONG. Which I can't do! There is no way! There are too many of them and they are all too low in basic student skills for me to have them self-manage AND IT"S NOT THEIR FAULT, they are only 10 and the social system and school system has and continues to fail them but in the end it comes down to this child is now getting a conduct alert--yet all he wanted was to do his work and have his teacher help him.

Teacher Follow Up: tears in a colleague's office, utter frustration at an inability to be the teacher these kids need me to be due to a screwed up system of no funding to give these kids what they need, and an utterly useless lecture with the rest of the class on their poor behavior--to which they merely nodded their heads and went right back to being off task and disrespectful to one another.

Administrator action: If I had time I'd check with him, but there is no time.  I worked 630-5 today and I still couldn't get to him to check in about this particular incident and how to write it up.  So here it is.

Child's Name: I don't know--since objects were flying from all directions.

Incident report: see above--about objects, flying, all directions.  Ending with Pencil hitting teacher.  And it did end there, because I made it end by being "not positive" in my redirection.

Teacher follow up: see above about negativity and redirection.

Administrator action: none--cause I am not going to report it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Great Green Waterfalls and Other Hilarious Adventures in My Life

I was productive today.  Very Very Very productive.  So productive I am allowing myself a complete lack of commas and improper capitalization in this post. 
I talked to contractors and strangers.  Got organized and made Goodwill runs as well as shopping trips to buy organizing contraptions.  Moved furniture and cleaned chicken coops.  Made doctor appointments and made progress towards the house remodel (See post about said tree falling....).
I even got the majority of the kids' Halloween costumes purchased.  Yay me. is indeed clumsy. 
After searching 3 different Goodwill stores and 2 different clothing departments at local one-stop-shopping stores, I still could not find a bright green, long sleeved t-shirt for my son's costume.  And in a flash of fateful inspiration I had an idea! Oh yes, beware the flash of fateful inspiration fairy--she is an impish one.
I bought a long sleeved white t-shirt and green fabric dye.  Even had a very kind gentleman and fellow shopper instruct me as to how to go about making dark green a brighter green (use yellow dye, too).  And I was good, I read the directions, I got a bucket and I dyed that shirt while wearing latex gloves so as to not stain my hands (thanks amazing stranger/fellow shopper with great advice!)
As I stood there swishing the 4.5 gallons of dark green dye and the formerly white t-shirt, I was oh so proud of myself.  I am amazing! I am a genius! I am soaking wet on the feet...?!!
I looked down to find said 4.5 gallons of dark green dye water pouring out of the cupboards beneath my sink.  I looked around to see said 4.5 gallons of dark green PERMANENT dye water spreading over my kitchen floor.  And I spewed a length of words so crass that seasoned sailors would have flinched.
And then, with no one around to help me clean up the mess nor to figure out what to do, I laughed.  I laughed hard and long and loud and perhaps a bit maniacally.  But I laughed and then when the water had made its' way and was no longer pouring, I stopped.  And I cleaned it up. 
My sides hurt from laughing.  My old dog drying towels are tye-dyed.  The plumbing needs to be fixed cause the drain pipe completely broke. Not to mention there's still a large oak tree worth of wood in my backyard waiting to be split, there are still holes in my roof and ceilings, there are still large fans and dehumidfiers drying out my house from the rain that fell the same night the tree did. 
But there's not green dye on my floors--I conquered that.  And at the same time I discovered there's still hope and laughter in my life. 
And my son has a perfect dyed green t-shirt for Halloween.  It looks so good, he can even wear it afterwards.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

When a Tree Falls on Your House and You Don't Know What it is, Does it Make a Sound?

YES!!! And when you exit the house and find out what it was, oh man! There are no words and you can't describe the sound.  Except maybe that it was the sound of grace and peace and oh my god, I am glad my children are okay.
And we are okay.  And it did make a sound.  And I can't describe it in a way that makes sense. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

When a Teacher's Child Gets in Trouble at School:

I got a letter from my son today.  I need to sign it so he can take it to school on Monday.  It said:

Dear Mom,

I did not get to go to the park for no reason and again I am getting in trouble for something someone else did and so did Alexso.  We were tossing the ball to each other from a foot away and then Kevin takes the ball and throws drops back and throws it over a tree and it lands in the street and then Kevin and Keegan go to get it and Ms. Molter gets mad because she said never go into the street.  And she gets mad at all of us and I could not go to the park!!!

I want school to end:

Needless to say, as a teacher I am most concerned about his lack of appropriate conventions and grammar.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Diet Crazes (warning censored bad language)

Everyone has their sure fire diet plan.  Well, I do too!  Cue catchy name:

Coffee, Students, and Gin.

Cue easy 5 step plan:

1) drink french press with half and half
2) teach in a low SES school 
3) stay late at work to keep up with all the requirements of your job
4) run your own children (who must be school aged--*refer to diet name) to and fro until bed time
5) have a glass (or two, or -who are we kidding?- three) of gin and soda

Cue amazing results in ridiculous timeline:

6lbs in 1 week.

Cue obscure pricing:

the equivalent tuition rate of 30 post-grad credits beyond Master's plus interest on the Master's and Bachelor's degrees.

Cue cheesy ad:

Want to work you a@# off literally?  Then have I got a job/diet for you....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's Really Simple

Never assume you know all there is to know in life; be it about people, about things, or about why.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Apparently I am not a "girl"

I think teachers may be genderless.  I, at least, am not a "girl" in the sense of "eeeeek a girl is in the boys bathroom!!!"

Case in point:

While going over the bathroom expectations with my 5th grade students we walked down to the actual bathrooms to work with a 1/2 grade blend class to "walk through" the bathroom expectations in the actual bathroom.  The 1/2 blend teacher took the girls and I took the boys.

After reviewing the "be safe" guidelines (have a pass, go directly to bathroom and back, keep water in the sink, etc etc) and the "be responsible" (have a pass, go directly to the bathroom and back, make it quick, keep the bathroom clean etc etc etc) and the "be respectful" (see all of the above and add: don't peak under or over the stall doors/walls) I walked the 35 boys into the actual restroom to model the water in the sink and paper towels in the trash.

Upon entering the bathroom WITH my boys a few of the 5th grade boys decided that all this bathroom talk made them feel they HAD to use the urinals.  Do you know what happens when little 1st and 2nd graders see others using the urinals? They HAVE to use the urinals.  No one seemed to think anything of the fact that I was RIGHT THERE and FEMALE attempting to go over bathroom expectations. 

Being a quick thinker (and the mother of a boy!) I turned my back to the boys using the urinals and the long line of little ones behind them waiting not so patiently said, "this is a good time to remind you that it's important to wash your hands after using the bathroom" and to the sound of toilets flushing and the stench of urine I made my hasty exit.

Next year the only expectation I am going to teach is Be Respectful: Do not use the urinal while your teacher is there. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Grass Really Is Greener...

Flicka has decided that 1 city lot is not enough for her Jersey Giantness...

We are blessed to have such great chicken loving neighbors.  Chicken Poo (Especially Jersey Giant Chicken Poo) is an acquired acceptance.  I hope the giant eggs she has decided to deposit for them help with the knowledge that they just may have to share their yard with this freedom-loving, roaming, giant hen.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sweet late summer tomatoes or Vicious body maiming fruits

I harvested another large bowl of tomatoes today.  Yummy, beautiful red and yellow tomatoes.  But lest you think that harvesting is just a pleasant afternoon event I must warn you that it is fraught with danger!

So: Sweet late summer tomatoes or Vicious body maiming fruits? 

I have no less than 5 bug bites/stings, 4 slivers in my knee and my forearms are scraped up from the tomato vine. 
Tomatoes 1 Diana 0
I ate a few tomatoes and sliced up a few more.
Tomatoes 1 Diana 1
Tomato in middle of bowl split open and left a slimy mess on the others.
Tomatoes 2 Diana 1
I am going to stew those tomatoes on low heat for an extended period of time, then I am going to freeze those tomatoes until I am ready to eat them.
Tomatoes 2 Diana 2
Then I am going to take their seeds and plant them and harvest/eat their offspring (because I hate a tie game).
Tomatoes 2 Diana 3

It's possible I may be too competitive with my fruits/vegetables....

Friday, September 2, 2011

If You Really Want Something

When the person you want some-very important-thing from is standing in front of you humbled and a glimpse of understanding about the importance of that something to you crosses their face...  (And this something you want is something that would benefit both of you.  And this something you want is something you knew they would never be able to offer you, but you stay anyway.)...  And this something you want is FINALLY offered to you by that person....don't say, "oh sure, I'll believe it when I see it" and walk off in a pouty huff.  Because, you probably just blew your shot at getting that something you really wanted. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

What We Don't Hear...

County Library late afternoon
Little boy playing on the computer in the kids' computer section in one corner of the library.  Head phones on.
20 something man, presumably the child's father,  surfing the internet in the adults' computer section on the opposite corner of the library. Head phones on.
 Scene I:
"DAD" shouts the little boy, to hear himself over the headphones, across the library
"PLAY YOUR GAME" shouts the 20 something man, to hear himself over the headphones, across the library
"DAD COME HERE" shouts the little boy
"PLAY YOUR GAME" shouts the 20 something man
"DAD!!!!!" shouts the little boy
"SHUT YOUR MOUTH AND PLAY YOUR GAME" shouts the 20 something man
"DAD! (pause) i love you" fades out the little boy barely audible to the lady sitting next to him.

Post script:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mothers are Weird

This past week I have heard quite a few mother's screaming at their kids.  I think a couple of times it might have been my own voice I was hearing.

One night, while waiting for my son at football, I overheard a mother making a request of her child.  I remember distinctly what the mother said (warning language), "Stop throwing those rocks or I'm gonna kick your little black ass!"  The kid didn't stop.  Nor did she kick his little 5 year old tushy.  I don't think she was actually going to.  I don't think the kid thought she was going to, either.  Really, I don't think she thought she was going to.

Today I heard another make a request of her son, "HIT THAT KID!" The kid did.  And that kid was my son.  And her kid was supposed to hit my kid.  There were over a hundred people watching her son hit my son.  Only I missed it.  Because I turned around to see who the heck was yelling at their child to hit another child.  I guess I have to get used to watching football again, as a mom.

As the game went on I found myself cheering as my son got in on tackles.  And cringing when he got blindsided.  One time he popped up off the ground and looked ready to deck the kid who had tackled him and I thought "NO!" And then 30 seconds later I was cheering as he rushed at the next kid he was supposed to knock to the ground. 

Most mom's I know (including my own) are amazing women.  Totally committed to their children.  Do wonderful jobs at it, too.  But I am pretty sure they are still weird.  At least I hope they are.  Cause I know I definitely am.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Do These Things Ever Happen to Other People?

I switched out my music player holder for my husband's.  In my old holder I could leave the cover on my music player and it still fit.  On this new one,  I have to take my cover off.  You'd think that would be simple.  I mean I know I have snapped the cover back on millions of times.  Which means that I have to have taken it off before. After thinking about it, it turns out the only time I have ever removed my cover is when I have dropped it.  It also turns out that I have no idea of how to take it off any other way.  I'm thinking about dropping it...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Life is a Musical, Right?

I sing to myself, a lot.  I thought this was normal--my whole life! Until I discovered it might not be.  Yes, if I were singing the latest alt rock song no one would blink.  But I'm a little different than that.  I thought I had broken the habit.  Today I caught myself singing about the laundry I was doing.  So perhaps I haven't quite lost the tendency.  I hate putting away laundry.  I don't mind putting away laundry so much if I sing about it as I do it. 

Come to think of it, I hate putting away anything. I love putting clothes in the washer and moving them to the dryer,  I don't even mind folding clothes and sorting them.  I HATE putting them away.  Is that strange?  It applies to the dishwasher, too.  Which makes me think of a little tune about dishes...

Oops I did it again

Have you ever just sat outside your body and watched it say the stupidest things? Such a helpless feeling. Yet amusing, really, if you think about it. To be able to float around and be aware enough to think, "STOP STOP STOP" but not be able to actually prevent the words from spilling out. And then to somehow have to be responsible for the actions you so obviously (well obvious to yourself) couldn't prevent.  That part sucks.  You'd think there'd be some sort of "Fair Fighting Clause" that allows for this sort of impairment.